All About Service Learning for High School Students
Learning is an individual process and sometimes as students it can feel like the system in which we are expected to learn simply doesn’t work for us. This is why alternative educational opportunities can be wonderful supplements to the daily education that high school students receive. There are many types of non-traditional educational opportunities, below we take a closer look at service learning and why it may be a good opportunity for you!
What is service learning?
First and foremost it is important to know what service learning is. Service learning is a type of education that pushes your academic development past the walls of a classroom. Ever feel like what you only retain what you are reading in a text book up until you need to take a test? Often times lifelong learning and understanding takes place when knowledge is paired with experience, giving you a context in which to place what you are learning.
This is service learning. The combination of hands on experience, educational insight, and reflection, all aimed at providing you with a richer more impactful type of learning.
For a more complete look at service learning, read this article by Andy Woods-Ballard.
What does a service learning program entail?
A service learning program starts before you even leave home. For the two weeks prior to leaving you will complete assignments and activities that get you geared up to go.
Once in country, days will include working in the field, the activities that you get involved with will depend greatly on your destination and focus, and will also depend on the local need and requests of the local community. For the next few days you will be working as a team, reviewing and adjusting your progress, and evaluating your impact. As you progress you will also be immersed in a fascinating culture gaining a deeper understanding of the world at large.
There will be scheduled reflection periods each day, which will give your team the time to discuss the achievements of the day, prepare for any adjustments needed for the next day, and analyze and discuss what you saw and did throughout the day. There will also be opportunities to take part in various local activities, from cooking classes to dance lessons!
Once you return home you will continue to engage with active reflection and educational expansion for two weeks. Emphasis will be placed on educational and career development, staying actively engaged as a global citizen, and reflecting on individual growth.
What type of course can you get involved with?
Finding a course that matches your current interests is extremely important, the more invested you are in the topic, the more you will get out of the experience. Programs are diverse and cover a huge range of topics. Think about if you are more interested in sciences or the humanities in your current studies and think about pursuing a course that would add to the classes you are currently enjoying at school.
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If you love history or literature pursuing a community development project would most likely be a good fit. Days would be spent analyzing current global issues and helping contribute towards solutions by building new infrastructure and improving educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth.
If science and math are more in line with your interests then look into a conservation project. Spend time looking at critical issues affecting the health of coral reef systems while learning to dive so that you can collect valuable data pertaining to their protection. Or look into a wildlife conservation project where you could study bird species in Costa Rica or lions and elephants in South Africa.
Look into different course options based on your interests.
What are the long term benefits?
The idea of a service learning program is to spark a lifetime engagement with critical global issues and to inspire you to continue learning and exploring the topics that you were involved in abroad. In this sense service learning can be the spark for your future studies, the community programs that you get involved with when you return home, and can help you determine the area of higher education that you may like to pursue.
Read More: Why Service Learning In Good For You
In addition service learning is often the start of student’s engagement with global communities. Service learning is far beyond a travel opportunity. Service learning teaches you how to go abroad and get involved with a community as a more direct participant. Spending significant time reflecting on your time abroad means that you will walk away a more informed and affluent global citizen.
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Then of course there is the personal growth that is bound to happen. Service learning opens the door for individuals to shine and prosper.
Now that you know a bit more about service learning and what it entails you can better decide if this might be a good addition to your traditional schooling experience!
GVI is a multi-award winning Service Learning organization. Find out more about our international service learning programs and see how students from around the world are making a difference.
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